Exchange Rate Regimes: Understanding the Differences and Their Importance in International Trade

Exchange rate regimes are rules and agreements that determine how a country’s exchange rate is controlled, with the main goal of balancing the economy. In Brazil, the Central Bank (Bacen) is the authority responsible for establishing and controlling the exchange rate regimes that Brazilian companies must follow.

The importance of exchange rate regimes is closely related to international trade, as the exchange rate is the price of a country’s currency in relation to another country’s currency, and this directly impacts the prices of products and services traded between nations.

For a global trading operation, the choice of currency used makes a significant difference in cost between importers and exporters. Therefore, knowledge of changes in exchange rates is essential to avoid risks and ensure profitability in international transactions.

Types of Exchange Rate Regimes

Floating Exchange Rate

The floating exchange rate is the regime in which the exchange rate is determined by the forces of supply and demand in the market, with very little government intervention. In this system, currencies fluctuate freely according to the economic and financial conditions of the country.

In Brazil, we currently adopt a floating exchange rate as a monetary policy. The Central Bank only conducts occasional interventions to control inflation, through changes in the basic interest rate (Selic) and monetary base.

Advantages of Floating Exchange Rate

  • The government doesn’t need to spend its financial reserves to maintain the currency’s value.
  • Greater flexibility for economic adjustments in response to changes in national and international conditions.

Disadvantages of Floating Exchange Rate

Trade uncertainty due to frequent variations in exchange rates, which can impact international operations.

Fixed Exchange Rate

In the fixed exchange rate regime, the government establishes a fixed value for its currency in relation to a foreign currency, and this value is maintained based on pre-established criteria. It’s commonly used as a measure to control inflation in underdeveloped countries.

Advantages of Fixed Exchange Rate

  • Greater currency stability, considered an anti-inflationary measure.
  • Low fluctuation in currency value, providing predictability for commercial transactions.

Disadvantages of Fixed Exchange Rate

  • The government needs to use its financial reserves to maintain the currency’s value, making the country more vulnerable to external threats.
  • The fixed value doesn’t necessarily reflect the country’s economic reality.

Exchange Rate Band

In the exchange rate band regime, the government defines limits for currency fluctuation. When exchange rates exceed the established limits, the monetary authority intervenes by buying and selling the currency to ensure that the fluctuations remain within the limits.

Advantages of Exchange Rate Band

  • High predictability, as currency fluctuations are regularly adjusted based on the trade balance and the external market.
  • Greater control over the currency without fixing a single and inflexible value.

Disadvantages of Exchange Rate Band

  • Also an artificial regime, which can cause losses for domestic companies involved in import and export operations.
  • Dependency on government interventions can create market uncertainties.


The choice of exchange rate regime is a fundamental decision for a country’s economy, with direct implications for commercial operations and economic development. In the context of international trade, companies must closely monitor changes in exchange rates to make strategic decisions and avoid financial risks.

The flexibility of floating exchange rates, the stability of fixed exchange rates, and the predictability of exchange rate bands are aspects to consider in global transactions. Collaboration between companies and specialized professionals, such as customs brokers, can be crucial to optimize import and export operations, taking into account exchange rate regimes and their implications on international business.

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